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America the Beautiful? This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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History class disillusioned me.
Tarnished America the Beautiful in my mind.
Dimmed my patriotic pride.
Each black word on each white textbook page
was like an accusing finger, a silent voice saying
“Look! Look what YOU have done.”
And my vision of America began to crumble, to change.
I saw purple mountain majesties
stained with Cherokee blood, a trail of tears under their feet,
its twin trickling down their cheeks.
Amber waves of grain replaced by barbed wire
imprisoning Japanese fathers, daughters, sons.
I heard the faint cry of slaves,
the crack of the whip, the pain.
And this is the land of the free?
Instead of liberty, slavery.
Instead of equality, segregation.
Instead of democracy, corruption.
And when the American Dream's sparkling cover is ripped away
there is only greed.
Shame paints my cheeks red.
Liberty and justice? For all? Were they lies
tossed carelessly around by the men I admired?
Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson,
are they really just “dead white guys”
with a penchant for deception?
And then realization came like the sun rising anew,
shedding its golden light on my America that had become
foggy, clouded with hypocrisy.
My realization was this:
America is human.
Horrible mistakes clutter its shores like offending garbage,
but America learns and changes.
America is people, you and me, clasping hands and fixing our mistakes.
Righting our wrongs.
Making apologies.
And when I look beyond the dirt and grime of national atrocities,
I see the America I love,
a land bruised by a few centuries of bad choices
but standing strong, a sturdy oak tree
rooted in liberty and justice.
A country where people hold the power
instead of the power holding them.
Where rainbowed people from a thousand different cultures
can pray and speak their mind
without fear that those words will be their last.
Searching beyond inky words on a textbook page
that imprison America behind nightmares of the past,
I see that the star-spangled banner does indeed wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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This article has 9 comments. Post your own now!

Alabian said...
Aug. 27, 2013 at 7:24 pm
As a lover of America, I give this article 5/5 stars. You are totally right about everything in this. Awesome wording. I'm proud that it was published in the TeenInk monthly print so that even more people can see just how right you are.
 
AriShine This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 19, 2012 at 3:28 pm
Not only do you have an excellent point, but this is brilliantly put. I love your word choice. Also, I feel the same way. You had me from, "Each black word on each with textbook page was like an accusing finger."
 
KatsK This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 5, 2012 at 1:18 pm
I totally agree. The diescriptions were amazing, and you really got the point across
 
KatsK This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 5, 2012 at 1:18 pm
I totally agree. The diescriptions were amazing, and you really got the point across
 
Aspiringauhor said...
Dec. 4, 2011 at 4:47 pm
This is amazingly written.
 
Pillow said...
Dec. 4, 2010 at 12:01 am
I completely understand this article. I almost hated our country after learning about how much wrong we have done in the past but we have so much hope for the future. We can learn from our mistakes. We also have done so much good. Did you know the US was a big part in winning WW2 that stopped the holocaust from killing more people? Did you know that the US gives the most money to help struggling nations such as Haiti? We give more money than all the other nations combined. There is hope for us yet.
 
TheBirdman1014 said...
Nov. 30, 2010 at 9:38 pm

I was hoping you continued to see the United States for what it truly is, but then I realized you slipped back into a fantasy world where the United States is a peacemaker and the shining beacon of hope to the rest of the world.

The United States is not an example of justice or glory. We rain death and destruction upon nations around the globe. We fund dictators and despots, we overthrow democratically-elected governments, we train death squads.

You cannot brush these off as mer... (more »)

 
Krikette This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 30, 2010 at 11:51 pm
You make some important points. I do agree that America is not a shining pillar of perfection in the world. And yes, it is important not to diminish America's past wrongs and to acknowledge that there are serious, on-going problems in this country. That being said, as Americans, we have the freedom and the power to address these wrongs and make changes, just as we have throughout history. (i.e. the Civil Rights Movement). I am proud to be an American not because it is a perfect country, but a co... (more »)
 
TheBirdman1014 replied...
Dec. 1, 2010 at 5:56 pm
I agree, that is a good reason. The fact is, many people take "being American" overboard, to the point where they use it to justify the refusal to point out wrongs commited in the name of the United States. I'm glad you are able to see past wrongs and simple appreciate the United States for what citizens can do, but do not always do.
 
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